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Otley dad held in Greek jail cleared of all charges
An Otley father who has been languishing in a Greek jail has been cleared of all charges – but may still have to endure another month behind bars.
Fran Prenga, who runs a plumbing and bathroom business in the town, was found innocent of more than 70 charges of armed robbery at a trial in Greece on Monday.
For Mr Prenga, his family and friends, the ruling seemed to signal the end of a “nightmare” that has seen him imprisoned for more than four months waiting to face charges relating to offences that took place in Athens between 2004 and 2005.
But the joy felt by the 34-year- old’s wife Louise and supporters, including MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West), quickly turned to anger when the Greek authorities made it clear he would not be walking free for another four weeks.
The anticipated delay is due to court workers taking part in a general strike in Greece, which could stop the necessary release papers reaching Mr Prenga’s jail.
Mr Mulholland, who has been helping Mrs Prenga in her fight to get her husband freed, said: “The joy of the court’s decision has been very quickly soured by the extraordinary decision of the Greek authorities not to release Fran immediately. To hold an innocent man for so long is clearly unacceptable.
“I have raised this again with the Minister for Europe and will also contact the Greek embassy in London in an attempt to bring forward Fran’s release.
“I have also been in close contact with Fair Trials International and Edward McMillan-Scott MEP regarding this case and will continue to work closely with them to help find a solution to this as soon as possible.”
Mr Prenga, who has a one-year- old daughter, Maria, was arrested in Greece after attending a police station to fill in legal documents relating to a possible investment in a restaurant.
Mr Mulholland said the time Mr Prenga has already had to spend in prison has damaged both his health and the wellbeing of his Otley business.